There’s a castle outside New York City that exudes a rock star quality you don’t necessarily expect in Yonkers.
The castle’s owner, Kohle Yohannan, calls it “otherworldly.”
“You get in your car, leave the insanity [of the city] and escape to this tranquil hideaway. It appeals to a cross-section of the uber-rich and the uber-creative,” said Yohannan, who bought the rundown castle in the early 2000s and renovated it.
Rockers and movie stars actually have visited, he said, including for epic Halloween parties at which they came face-to-face with other guests dressed as them. “It was a meta costume thing. There would be five different versions of someone, and one of them was the pop star,” Yohannan said.
Throughout the 13,500 square feet of opulence are imports from 16th-, 17th- and 18th-century Europe that give the castle — formally “Greystone Court” — a gravitas even beyond its 100-plus years. It’s on the market for $3.95 million with listing agent Terhi Edwards of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
The castle started as a country house in the 1880s and was expanded over the years until it became “an architectural expression of wealthy Americans’ admiration for the grand traditions of their European ancestors,” according to its website.
Renovating meant “discovering a hidden treasure in every room,” Yohannan said. One example: He uncovered 18th-century, hand-carved French Rococo panels in the dining room that had been painted over.
The 6-bedroom, 7-bath home boasts 11 fireplaces, a new slate-and-copper roof, and central air conditioning that the original owners could only dream of.
A marble entry hall opens onto an oak-paneled living room that sits adjacent to a conservatory with a morning room, a billiard room and a library-turned-“Turkish Room.” An octagonal ballroom offers views of the Hudson River, while a spacious master suite features a marble terrace.
An observatory features even more views from a light-filled space that would make an ideal artist’s or writer’s studio. The home also includes a wine cellar, a workshop, staff quarters and a chapel.
Photos courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
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At summer’s end, once school is back in session, many of us start looking forward to Halloween. It’s a holiday adults can enjoy as much as kids. But, homeowners do have one serious obligation on this fun night: If you expect trick-or-treaters, you must make sure the path to your door is a safe one.
Take no trips
Inevitably, some giddy ghosts and ghouls will race excitedly to your door. Be prepared.
In the full light of day, inspect your lawn, driveway and front path for trip hazards like exposed tree roots, cracks in concrete or missing pavers. Make repairs where possible or, at the very least, cut off access to unsafe areas.
Meanwhile, if you’ve decorated the front yard with decorations like light-up pumpkins and animated figures, relocate the electrical cords so they’re not in anyone’s way.
Light the way
Make sure the path to your house is bright enough for trick-or-treaters to approach safely.
You don’t need to install a full suite of year-round landscape lighting simply to accommodate visitors on Halloween night. There are plenty of temporary and affordable options for illumination, from glow sticks to tea lights.
And although it may seem more in keeping with the mood of this spooky night to switch off your porch light, it’s much safer – not to mention more inviting – to keep it on.
Resist flammable decor
Whether vandals or accidents are to blame, there are many more fires on Halloween than a typical October night, according to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Holiday decorations are often quite flammable, involving materials such as paper, hay and dried cornstalks.
If you can’t resist adorning your home and yard with such potentially dangerous items, then be sure to keep them away from candles and other heat sources. If jack-o’-lanterns or luminaries figure into your celebrations, illuminate them using LED tea lights, not open flames.
Curb your dog
Chances are yours is a friendly dog. But if some Halloween costumes are so convincing as to be frightening to small children, those same getups could be equally disturbing to your pooch – particularly on such a high-energy night.
It’s good sense to contain your dog in an indoor space that’s both comfortable and secure.
A festive parade of goblins and ghouls, princesses and superheroes will soon be marching to your house. Do your part by clearing the path and lighting the way. Be safe out there, and have a Happy Halloween!
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Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
Originally published October 10, 2014.
What has a stately entrance, a glamorous swimming pool, and a ZIP code that can’t be beat? Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne’s rental in Beverly Hills 90210 for the past four years.
The reunited couple moved out recently, and it’s on the market for $26.895 million.
Designed by architect-to-the-stars Paul R. Williams in 1955, as the Los Angeles Times reported, the home spans nearly 5,400 square feet and boasts a marble entryway reminiscent of old Hollywood. It’s ideal for entertaining the children and friends, with a gourmet kitchen, a formal breakfast room and a formal dining room that seats 20. For more casual gatherings, there’s a wood-paneled family room with a fireplace and bar.
The home’s 4 bedrooms and 6 baths include a master suite with dressing rooms, a steam shower and a spa tub.
The home is situated on nearly an acre with a mosaic tile pool and a cabana that features a gym, bathroom and kitchen. The property also offers a guest house and staff quarters.
The listing agent is Lori Berris of Sotheby’s International Realty.
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If you are a beginner DIY-er with some painting experience under your belt, take it up a notch by learning how to create beautiful textures on your walls or ceiling.
In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, textures are practical, and serve to cover up defects in your walls or ceiling. Once the texture is applied, you will never even remember that those flaws are there.
Here are the basics you’ll need to get started.
There are different ways to apply the texture to walls. You can use a brush, heavy-nap paint roller, texture roller, or taping knife, just to name a few options.
You can also create your own texturing tools. Try scrunching up some plastic, or even using a pocket comb. You may find other objects around your home that will help you create an attractive and unique pattern.
Textures can bring a variety of effects to a room – from bold to modest.
Perhaps you would like to make a dramatic style statement with something very pronounced, such as a swirl pattern or a Spanish knife texture.
Or maybe you just want to add something subtle to your walls, to give just a bit of character to the room. For this, you could consider what is called a “knockdown” texture, where, after the texture is applied, it is grazed over lightly with a trowel or taping knife.
Another easy option for applying texture is to use a texture roller to apply a highly visible pattern to the ceiling, such as a crow’s foot pattern.
General guidelines to texturing
Understand the basics of adding texture and you will soon be good to go.
- Use a pre-mixed joint compound for texturing, as opposed to a setting-type joint compound. Pre-mixed joint compound is slow-drying, and this will eliminate the need to rush and get the job done before the compound sets.
- Mix the joint compound with water to create the consistency you want. You can do this by hand for a small amount of compound, or with a drill and mixing paddle for a larger amount. The thicker the consistency, the more pronounced the texture will be. A thinner consistency of joint compound will create a subtle pattern. Pro tip: The starting texture should be about the consistency of cake frosting. From there, you can make it looser or stiffer to get the effect you’re looking for.
- It’s always nice to have help, and more than one person can certainly work on the overall project, including helping to remove old texture and repair the walls. But it is critical that only one person apply the texture. This is because your finished texture is going to be unique to you and your hand. Someone else’s texture, even if they are using the same technique, will be different, and this difference will be visible to the eye in the finished room.
- Practice makes perfect. As with many DIY finishing projects, it is wise to practice your technique first on a scrap piece of drywall. This way you can experiment with different techniques, and tweak the consistency of the joint compound to be certain you end up with a texture you like.
There are literally hundreds of different textures and combinations of textures you can add to your walls and ceilings to put your own unique personal “stamp” on your room.
Texturing is one of those home decor projects that looks like it takes more effort than it actually does. Remember: You can do this!
Want more DIY tips? Watch more of See Jane Drill’s home improvement videos.
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The American craftsman architectural style originated (by and large) in sunny California at the turn of the 20th century. It is a distinctive American style that incorporates natural materials and clean lines.
While the exterior of craftsman homes offer details upon details – like columns, exposed beams, and stone work – the interior maintains a clean and simple vibe with hand-hewn elements and a down-to-earth feel.
Adding craftsman-style interior elements is a great way to add warmth to a home, especially new construction. Here are five budget-friendly ways to do it.
Craftsman style is very no-nonsense, so stone is a natural fit in this aesthetic. Stone accents throughout the house add a warm touch, especially on a fireplace surround or as an accent wall.
Stone’s natural beauty is perfect for the fireplace. Add a large wood mantel and decorate with earthy colors to make the fireplace surround a truly craftsman-style masterpiece.
To use stone in an accent wall or backsplash, make sure you choose a color that lends itself to the surrounding areas of the home. Favorite types of stone include slate, honed granite, and soapstone, especially in the kitchen, where it can truly shine.
The craftsman palette pulls straight from nature. This aesthetic puts a focus on simplicity, but not a lack of color.
For this style of home, think mossy green, rusty brown, and clean white. Accent with natural finishes and tones like wood and stone, and make sure to use the colors in different decorative elements, like tiling, flooring, wall covering, and trim.
Clean lines and simple silhouettes are key to accomplishing craftsman style, and built-in shelving is a go-to way of creating this particular look.
Stay away from ornate or overly detailed structure, and opt for a clean and classic shelving unit.
Ample storage arranged in a polished way with built-in shelving perfectly reflects the unique and straight-forward craftsman aesthetic. Inside the built-ins, keep decor simple and neat so the sleek shelving can be the focal point of the space.
Perhaps the most distinctive detail of craftsman style is interior columns, particularly those that are squared off or tapered. This recognizable look can be found on the exterior as well, as it helps support the home in a beautifully simple way.
If your home comes equipped with columns, celebrate them! Keep the decor around them simple, and let the columns do the talking. They are best shown in earthy tones, or a simple, bright white.
Contributing to the uncomplicated aesthetic of craftsman style, statement lighting and task lighting are unfussy and simple. Composed mostly of glass, iron, and bronze, the lighting pays homage to the natural materials used in this classic turn-of-the-century style.
To honor this simplicity, look for straightforward silhouettes that add just a touch of style to a space.
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If only Marcia could see her now.
After finally letting go of the Malibu beach house she bought when she was 11 years old, Eve Plumb — best known as put-upon middle daughter Jan from “The Brady Bunch” — has landed a Manhattan penthouse. And she still has millions to spare.
Plumb sold her cottage on Escondido Beach earlier this year for $3.9 million. She made a pile of dough on the bungalow, which cost her $55,300 back in 1969.
The nearly 1,100-square-foot apartment is packed with views to the north, south and west. They’re visible from large windows and from terraces off the living room and both bedrooms.
The master suite is a private midtown paradise. On the opposite side of the home from the living spaces, kitchen and second bedroom, it boasts an en-suite bathroom and lots of closet space.
Plumb and her husband also own a smaller apartment on the Upper West Side.
Photos courtesy of Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
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A short drive from Mount Horr in suburban Connecticut sits a work of art that, to hear the reaction on social media, is masquerading as a haunted house.
“Traumatizing,” “nightmares” and “hell house” are mentioned, as is the less ominous summation, “gloriously overdecorated.”
None of those comments comes close to the artist/owner’s true inspiration: the painter Wassily Kandinsky.
“Nikolay Synkov, who designed and built the expansion, is a devotee of Wassily Kandinsky’s paintings and writings, and embellished the rooms with details from the world of his mind’s inner fantasy,” according to a 142-page treatise on the house, which Synkov dubbed “Experimental Art Studio.”
In a description that calls to mind the aims of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School of architecture, it continues, “The forms he developed for the building harmonize – either by contrast or by assimilation – with the pervading spirit of the mysterious and beautiful power of nature: they belong to the landscape.”
Overall, the 2,950-square-foot home, which is on the market for $339,900, “reflects that peace is more honorable than the tragedy of war.”
The artist took that vision in his own direction and appears to have poured buckets of shiny copper throughout the home. Hammered copper surrounds the fireplace and is painted above the mantel, on kitchen cabinets and along the staircase. In places, it festoons the stairs themselves.
Where copper takes a pause, dusty rose and gauze reminiscent of cobwebs adorn the walls.
The listing agent is Sheree Rossi of ERA Property Center.
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Craftsman homes are the jewel boxes of old neighborhoods. Most of them were built at the beginning of the 20th century, and offer loads of charm and character – inside and out.
Boasting double-hung windows, large front porches, wood siding, and vibrant exterior paint colors, these turn-of-the-century homes continue to charm home buyers today.
If you’re thinking about purchasing a craftsman charmer, keep the following considerations in mind before you sign on the dotted line.
Bob Hatch of Bob Hatch Builds in Pasadena, CA has nearly 40 years of experience working with craftsman homes in the city’s historic “Bungalow Heaven” neighborhood. He says one of the main things to look out for in any historic home is old asbestos piping.
Asbestos was commonly used in houses built in the early 20th century, but is now known to cause cancer if the fibers are inhaled.
Discovering asbestos is a very common occurrence with an older home. You definitely want to have it removed by an expert to ensure that your home has clean air quality.
Another common toxic material you may find in a craftsman home is lead paint. The government banned the use of lead paint in 1978, but it’s likely that it’s still present on that vintage craftsman you’re thinking about purchasing.
Though lead paint isn’t dangerous if it’s in good condition, it can potentially cause lead poisoning if it’s chipped or damaged.
Call in an expert who can remove the paint safely per EPA standards. If the lead paint isn’t fixed properly, the homeowner could face up to a $32,000 fine. You definitely want to make sure you’re up to code.
What hides behind the walls
As we’ve all seen on renovation TV shows, older homes are often in need of an upgrade to the plumbing and/or electrical systems.
Old pipes can rust and cause a range of issues, from low water pressure to lead in drinking water, so it’s crucial that you modernize any old plumbing prior to moving into the home.
Replacing old electrical wiring is also critical because faulty, antiquated wiring can cause electrical fires.
Additionally, many craftsman homes may require insulation installation, chimney repairs, and making sure that the double-hung windows are in good working order, as they tend to stick.
Safe and sound – structurally speaking
As time goes by and the earth shifts underneath a house, it’s only natural that there would need to be some structural updating, and it’s no different for an old craftsman home.
“A lot of the craftsman homes [in Southern California] are on river rock foundations, which are not the best foundations, because you can’t bolt down to a river rock foundation,” Hatch warns. “A lot of insurance companies won’t insure with river rock.”
Also be sure that the large front porches (a common feature of craftsman homes) are secured in the ground. Check that the posts are bolted to the columns, and bury the posts so that the porch has structural integrity, Hatch recommends.
Don’t fall into a money pit
The competition for craftsman homes in some areas can be fierce, with prices ranging from $700,000 to over $1 million. However, even if you’re in a bidding war, it’s still important to make sure you’re not buying into a money pit.
“Get a thorough home inspection so a professional can call out any problems that maybe weren’t disclosed, and go from that point,” advises Hatch. “Ask yourself if you want to fix it, or do you want to deduct it from the price? The original owner has to fix it for safety’s sake or write it off the back end of the price.”
Once you determine that the house is a fair price, care for your craftsman home properly with regular maintenance and upgrades so that you can love it for many years to come.
After all of the renovations are done, call an inspection company after the first 20 years to ensure that everything is still in good working order.
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Buying your first home is an occasion worth celebrating. But before you get caught up in decorating and planning that housewarming party, it’s important to make certain your new home is secure.
New homeowners are especially vulnerable to security risks, as they are just beginning to learn about their new home and neighborhood. Get a head start with these 10 home security tips for first-time buyers from experts in the home security field.
1. Assess the security situation before you buy.
Aim to be an informed resident of your neighborhood before even moving in. Chris McGoey, president of McGoey Security Consulting, suggests to those still in the house-hunting phase to try to move into the best ZIP code you can afford.
“Neighborhoods with single-family homes usually have lower crime rates, while high-density housing areas with many rental apartments usually have higher crime rates,” he adds.
2. Take your neighborhood for a test drive.
Drive around the neighborhood during the day and at night, suggests David DeMille, online manager of A Secure Life. This allows you to gauge the happenings of your new neighborhood at different times of the day and week.
DeMille also advises new homeowners to get a feel for the day-to-day chatter on Nextdoor, a social network for neighborhoods.
3. Do your research.
SafeWise’s community safety consultant Sarah Brown suggests researching the area’s crime rates – for both property and violent crimes.
“You should also consider neighborhood watch programs and other city initiatives that may increase the safety of the neighborhood,” Brown notes, as even the safest neighborhoods are not immune to crime.
4. Meet your neighbors.
New homeowners should get acquainted with their neighborhood and neighbors, says Ralph Goodman, a lock and security expert with United Locksmith. Talking to your neighbors about neighborhood crime and safety will provide a sense of the kinds of security precautions needed in your home.
Getting to know your neighbors also leads to an increased awareness of trends in criminal behavior in your neighborhood, thus reducing the risk of being a victim, according to Chris LaNasa, director of product marketing for Vivint Smart Home.
Brown agrees, and adds: “New homeowners should meet their neighbors and then immediately get involved in neighborhood watch programs.”
McGoey even suggests considering turning one of your neighborhood watch meetings into a game – collectively assessing how neighbors might burglarize each other’s homes.
“It’s surprising how quickly they will spot your security flaws and bad habits, like leaving your garage door open,” he says.
5. Perform a home security audit.
After you’ve moved into your new home, DeMille advises homeowners to inspect all of the home’s entry points and identify any outdated or malfunctioning locks.
LaNasa recommends considering electronic door locks as you update your new home’s locks. “They give you the option to assign personalized key codes to others, allowing you to track the people going in and out of your home,” he says.
Goodman suggests specifically looking at locks to windows and rear doors, as well as your exterior and garage lights.
And don’t forget to re-code your garage door opener, reminds McGoey.
Brown echoes the need for a thorough home audit, cautioning new homeowners that many break-ins are by people who have had a chance to scope out your home.
“If you haven’t had a chance to find your weak spots, someone else will do it for you,” Brown warns.
6. Identify your local emergency services.
Once you’re aware of the kinds of crimes that occur in your area, Goodman advises new homeowners to then determine the proximity of emergency services to your neighborhood – and then work this information into your security and safety plans.
Furthermore, after neighborhood watch members are trained on what to do when suspicious activity is seen, they should know who to contact and what information should be provided when reporting crimes to authorities, LaNasa says.
7. Focus on prevention.
Even if you decide not to get a home security system, you can still address home security issues.
DeMille warns against showcasing valuables through open curtains and discarded packaging on the street. And McGoey suggests adding secondary blocking devices to sliding glass windows and doors so they can’t be easily forced open.
Additionally, LaNasa recommends securing your garage. “If a garage door is left open when you leave the house, your belongings and family become vulnerable,” he says.
He advises new homeowners to consider installing a garage door that can be controlled remotely via a smart home app. “If you find yourself second-guessing whether you actually closed the garage door when you left for the day, there’s no need to turn around,” notes LaNasa.
McGoey reminds first-time homeowners to be especially mindful of who enters your home, including service vendors, delivery persons, contractors, and even friends of your children.
“Once inside, they have a chance to look around for things worth stealing, and they can determine if your home security is real or fake,” he adds.
8. Shop around.
“The [home security] industry has a history of aggressive sales tactics, so it’s more important than ever to find a provider you feel comfortable working with that can offer advice and guidance without pushing a product,” says DeMille.
Assessing your family’s specific goals for a security system is key. “Are you looking to catch a burglar in real-time to contact police? You’ll probably want monitoring,” he says. DeMille also notes that those looking for a way to document evidence to provide to police may want a motion-sensing camera.
LaNasa favors a full smart home or security system, noting that they allow you to rely on cameras to keep an eye on your home’s surroundings and flag any unusual movement inside.
9. Don’t rule out DIY systems.
You can purchase a wireless alarm system without paying for installation or monthly monitoring. “If the alarm is activated, it triggers a loud siren, which is good enough to scare most burglars away,” McGoey notes.
He says the best part of any security system is the sign in the lawn advertising that you have a security system. “Many burglars will bypass your home due to the sign alone.”
10. Consider financial benefits.
Beyond the security benefits alone, a home security system also often bring you a home insurance discount of up to 10 percent. A reduced insurance rate is not a universal rule, however, and any possible deduction will vary by insurance provider, Goodman points out.
In addition to potential home insurance discounts, Goodman suggests taking into account that some home security systems help homeowners conserve energy costs, as they can be integrated with thermostats and outlets, and monitored remotely.
It’s all about preparedness
Ultimately, proper home security precautions stem from research and preventive actions. Take a critical look at your new neighborhood, home, and lifestyle to best determine your family’s specific security needs.
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Creating and keeping a good working relationship between you and your landlord is crucial to having a good experience in the rental – and getting great referrals after you no longer live there.
Here are a few tips on how to establish a great partnership from all phases of renting, from before you move in to handing over the keys on your way out.
In this first phase of the landlord/renter relationship, the goal is to make a good impression on the person who will be renting you your future home.
Getting off on the right foot is especially important if the apartment you’re looking at is in a highly competitive area. You want to make sure to stand out from the crowd in a positive way so you’ll get picked for the place. When you’re setting up appointments to view the place, be sure to be polite and professional on the phone.
On the actual viewing day, dress nicely (think along the lines of business casual), because this signifies to your future landlord that you’re serious about the place and that you take good care of yourself – and therefore will take good care of the rental.
Be sure to show up on time to the appointment, if not a little early. There’s nothing like starting off on the wrong foot by having to make an excuse about traffic or parking.
As much as you want to impress your landlord at this initial meeting, remember that this is also a test for your landlord to impress you. You can predict whether you’ll have a positive experience with this particular landlord by asking yourself a few questions.
When you were making the appointment, was it difficult to get a hold of the landlord? If so, then you may want to proceed with caution. You definitely don’t want to be in an emergency situation and find the landlord is unreachable.
When you walk into the rental, pay attention to how the outside looks. Does it look well landscaped, or do you notice major signs of wear and tear on the exterior?
During the viewing, when you ask questions about something innocuous, like spraying for bugs or updating the locks, if the landlord shirks the question or answers vaguely, you may want to rethink renting the property.
A good landlord will be transparent, helpful when you ask questions, and prompt in responding to emails or phone calls.
If you’ve determined that you want to move forward with this landlord and a particular unit, you now need to apply for the rental.
This will start with you filling out a lease application, which will typically involve an application fee. If you live in a competitive rental market and you really want to make a move on the place, it’s crucial to get this step down as soon as you’ve made your decision.
After you submit the application, the landlord will want proof of income, references, and permission to run a credit check. If you really want to get ahead of the game, it’s smart to have these all prepared before the landlord even asks for them so you can make it to the top of the pile of applicants.
Once your application gets approved, the landlord will then send you the lease to sign. It’s crucial to read the lease agreement thoroughly and understand everything on it – from pet deposits to move-out procedures.
Though many renters sign the lease as is, you actually have more power than you think to negotiate on things like security deposits, pet deposits, and even the amount of monthly rent.
If you know you are going to be buying a home or relocating in the coming months, you can also negotiate a mortgage clause or a relocation clause so that you don’t have to pay double for living expenses.
Remember that all of your negotiating power comes before you sign the lease. Once you sign it, you have agreed legally to everything that’s written down.
After you’ve signed your lease, it’s now official that you and your landlord have a working relationship.
To continue to work well with your landlord, there are a few things you can do to be a model tenant; in turn, they should return the favor and be a model landlord.
First, it’s crucial to pay your rent on time. Though everyone slips up every once in awhile, try to make it a habit to get that check to them on the agreed date.
To be a good tenant is to make sure you are not only caring for the rental properly, but also asking permission if you want to make small improvements such as painting or replacing drawer pulls or doorknobs. Always communicate well and often with your landlord if there are any issues with the rental, neighbors, or anything else that might pop up.
Though most landlords prefer to not have a lot of turnover with their tenants, it’s inevitable that people will be moving in and out. If you’re not planning on renewing the lease, be sure to give your landlord the required amount of notice (in most cases, 30 days) so that he or she can make arrangements for future tenants.
If you find that you need to break your lease, the first step should be talking to your landlord immediately after making the decision. Though your options may be more limited to negotiate than before you signed the lease, you still have a few options, from subletting to seeing if you can move into another property the landlord may own.
If the landlord is the one who is terminating the lease agreement, make sure you know your rights as a tenant. Your landlord is obligated to let you live there for the remainder of your lease, but he can refuse to renew if he wants to sell the home or move in.
No matter how the lease ends, be sure to clean the rental home well before you leave, and make arrangements to return the keys.
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